New York, Jan 29: For parents who spank their children believing it’s an effective form of discipline, think again.
According to child psychologists, spanking is actually a harmful practice.
“Parents spank with good intentions – they believe it will promote good behaviour, and they don’t intend to harm the child. But research thinks otherwise,” said child psychologist George Holden, a professor in the Southern Methodist University’s department of psychology in Texas who has carried out extensive research on spanking.
Holden and her colleagues used a simple and inexpensive method to briefly expose participants to short research summaries that detailed spanking’s negative impact.
Carrying out two studies, one with non-parents and one with parents, Holden and his co-authors found that attitudes were significantly altered.
“These studies demonstrate that a brief exposure to research findings can reduce positive corporal punishment attitudes in parents and non-parents,” stressed Holden.
The researchers believe the study, published in the international journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, is the first of its kind to find that brief exposure to spanking research can alter people’s views toward spanking.
“If we can educate people about this issue of corporal punishment, these studies show that we can in a very quick way begin changing attitudes,” said Holden.
Research has found that parents who spank believe spanking can make children behave or respect them.
The majority of the participants in the study – 74.6 percent – thought less favourably of spanking after reading the summary. Unexpectedly, the researchers said, attitude change was significant for both active and passive participants.
“Our web-based approach is less expensive, potentially quicker, and more easily scaled up to use at a community level across the communities,” Holden added.